Over the weekend, Tim Burton”s adaptation of the novel Miss Peregrine”s Home for Peculiar Children by author Ransom Riggs hits theaters. Reviews are tepid but not 2016 summer blockbuster bad. With its PG-13 rating and lack of significant demographic competition at the cinema, the box office draw could be decent. All that has to happen is for no one involved in the film to say something horrible and/or racist.
Dammit, Tim Burton!
When speaking to The Bustle about Miss Peregrine, the topic of on-screen diversity came up. After all, with the exception of Samuel L. Jackson as the villainous Barron, the film is very white. Tim Burton had…words…to say:
“Nowadays, people are talking about it more […]things either call for things, or they don”t. I remember back when I was a child watching The Brady Bunch and they started to get all politically correct, like, OK, let”s have an Asian child and a black – I used to get more offended by that than just – I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that”s great. I didn”t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.”
You can almost hear Burton”s publicist day-drinking from here. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to say The Brady Bunch reminding their viewing audience that minorities exist and should be treated with respect was offensive. How dare they?
Of course, a bold statement like Burton”s is going to open a can worms into his film history. The man has directed or produced over two dozens full-length features in his career. A quick perusal of that library shows a glaring oversight. There are no minority actors in major roles, sometimes barely in background roles. The closest Burton ever came casting PoC as lead characters were when Ken Page voiced Oogie Boogie in The Nightmare Before Christmas and when Jim Brown played former boxer Byron Willaims in Mars Attacks!. Several black actors also appeared in Burton”s 2001 version of Planet of the Apes…as apes. Asian and Hispanic actors fare just as poorly under Burton”s direction. Geek Quality has a great breakdown of just how whitewashed Burton”s worlds are.
So are Burton”s thoughts on inclusivity disappointing? Yes, but maybe they shouldn”t be surprising.